Delivering Gold

Yesterday I participated in something pretty amazing.  I was invited to join the judging team for the New Zealand Flower and Garden Show.  It was a real honour and a privilege to be involved in this way in such a prestigious event in the New Zealand Gardening Calendar.  The show in its current form is in it’s second year and while last years was inspirational, this year feels even better and in future years will grow to be bigger and more impressive as the amazing garden designers vie to improve their already outstanding gardens.  As a nation we haven’t had such an event since the devastating 6.3 Christchurch earthquake in 2011 stopped it in its tracks.  We should be so thankful to the lovely Kate Hillier for returning show gardening on such a scale to our horticultural calendar.

Lost and Found by Christian Jenkins at the NZ Flower and Garden Show
This wellness garden created by the lovely Christian Jenkins does a great job of imparting a sense of peace and calm after a busy day. It was a pleasure to meet him and his delightful Mum. Congratulations on the Gold.

Being a judge sounds very glamorous and I have to admit I was slightly excited and very nervous, especially as the other judges were the ‘who’s who’ of garden celebrity, people I had long respected and have been inspired by.   I shouldn’t have worried so much as, like in any sphere of the gardening universe, these gardeners were the nicest people and passionate about the same things as me – all things green and good!   But the work of a judge is serious.  The responsibility falls heavily to make the right decisions, and to do a good job an early start is required.  I presented myself to the judge’s tent at 7:30am!  I’m not normally out of bed by then on a normal day!  We were greeted with a breakfast of bacon butties which is apparently an RHS tradition and it felt special to be part of something even bigger than the show we were standing in the middle of.

Lost and Found by Christian Jenkins at the NZ Flower and Garden Show
This  amazing piece of craftsmanship stands at the entrance to Christian’s garden. I wonder if I have the skill, patience and time to attempt to make something that would vaguely compare. Probably not, some things are best left to the experts!

It was a long and rewarding day.  We even had the pleasure to delivering the prize medals to the garden designers once our deliberations were done.  Watching the reactions of folk who had been awarded prizes worthy of their efforts just made it even more wonderful.  Like the roar of delight of the school children who found out they had a golden garden, and the tears of joy, and I suspect relief, when the vibrantly rich Pollinator’s Paradise had gold added to their colourful garden.

NZ Flower and Garden Show
I hastily snapped this creative work of art that caught my eye at the back of an exhibit and I assured myself I would remember which garden as I hurried by. But alas no, it has slipped my mind. So I will update this image once I know who to give the deserved credit to. It isn’t always the big showy things that can inspire us.

Once the judging was done and dusted for the day, it was a quick change into a fancy frock and back for the official opening.  The remarkable Jackie Clark was MC and every time I see her addressing an audience, she impresses me with the ease, grace and flawless humour she delivers her message.  Then it was a delight to see the wonderful Maggie Barry up on stage.  When her TV show was in its prime, I wasn’t a gardener – I was a poor student.  But found myself on the Saturday morning after the Friday night show, unexplainably drawn to a garden centre where I would be compelled to purchase some poor plant that didn’t stand a chance as I promptly ignored it as my studies took precedence…  Until the following Saturday where my collection of half dead plants in pretty pots grew…

Jules' Zen Garden at the NZ Flower and Garden Show
It is hard not to be impressed by an hundred year old tree, with its twisted and gnarled features that sat perfectly in the surrounds of the tranquil Zen Garden that came out as the best in the show.

By the end of the night I found myself comfortably rubbing shoulders with old friends, new friends, those who inspired me, and those who will continue to inspire me.  The designers, fellow judges, media folk, and the unflappable and incredible organisers all came together to make it a day I’ll never forget.

Land of the Long White Cloud by Franca Logan at the NZ Flower and Garden Show
The interpretation of the Land of the Long White Cloud in this impressive floral display takes your breath away. The photos really don’t do it justice and to stand under it fills you with awe. Definitely a golden display.

However, from a horticultural point of view there was barely a moment to sit and contemplate the incredible workmanship and finer details of the gardens as I raced on by to perform my duties.  I barely took any photos, which isn’t like me at all – I’m a happy snapper who clicks with wild abandon.  So, I’m going back tomorrow to soak it all in.

Tony Murrell
My day was made all the more special with Tony Murrell as a judging companion, always ready to spread joy! Here he is playing the jandal pan pipes in the school garden section! Such fun.

I want to especially thank the NZ Flower and Garden Show for inviting me to be a part of something truly special.  And if you are in the Auckland Region from today to Sun 2nd Dec, I encourage you to pop along to the Trust Arena.  You won’t be disappointed.  There is something for everyone.

Come again soon – I’ll do another update after my next visit that will let the pictures do the talking.

Sarah the Gardener  : o)


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